Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, who has told of the events that led to India’s Partition, through her forthcoming film Partition: 1947, says she is confident that Mahatma Gandhi would have loved the film as it is in sync with his philosophies. “When I finished the film and I looked at it, I realised that it is a film that Gandhiji would have liked. It is totally on Gandhiji’s philosophy. He was completely sidelined by that point (of Partition),” the British filmmaker of Sikh origin told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.
It is a story that is deeply personal to Gurinder, whose own family was caught up in the tragic events that unfolded as the British Raj came to an end. The film narrates story of the trauma that people went through due to the division, and how it changed their life.
Gurinder has also brought in British side of the story, and showed what role did Lord Mountbatten play in all of it. She took lead from Narendra Singh Sarila’s book The Shadow of the Great Game for film. Looking back at the whole process that went behind the making of the film, Gurinder said: “It was very hard (making the film). There were times when I used to get upset, and there were times when I felt like Â‘I don’t think I can make this film’. It is so upsetting.”
She says she would pause for sometime, but “every time I halted, something came and pushed me to the next day. Something new happened like when Sarila telephoned” to inform that he got some new evidence. “In India, the whole film relied on whether we got Umaid Bhawan as a location because it is a very busy hotel and they said that you will not get it. But we got the location. So, it was like everything just came together.”
The Indian and Pakistani cast of the project, which released internationally as Viceroy’s House, is led by Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi and the late Om Puri. The roles of the principal political leaders are played by Tanveer Ghani (Jawaharlal Nehru), Denzil Smith (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and Neeraj Kabi (Mahatma Gandhi). The British cast is led by Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten, Gillian Anderson as his wife Lady Mountbatten, Lily Travers as their daughter Pamela, and Michael Gambon and Simon Callow as key civil servants.
The film examines the division of the country through the prism of a marriage — that of Mountbatten and Edwina Mountbatten — and a romance — that between a young Hindu servant, Jeet, and his intended Muslim bride, Aalia.